T&G launches new tomato

Toma­toes were among the hor­ti­cul­tural riches to re­turn to Europe from the ex­plo­ration of South Amer­ica more than 400 years ago.

NZ Grower - - News - By Ge­off Lewis Pho­tos Tre­for Ward

Since then the fruit has be­come a pop­u­lar part of our diet and a com­mon com­po­nent in the culi­nary world, now of­fer­ing more than 10,000 va­ri­eties.

T&G Global is New Zealand's largest grower and sup­plier of fresh toma­toes with 28.5ha of glasshouse space, mostly in the South Auck­land area, pro­duc­ing around 6 mil­lion kgs an­nu­ally in a range of va­ri­eties in­clud­ing Red De­light, Yelo, and the high-pro­duc­ing Mer­lice. Late last year T&G Global in­tro­duced the Ku­mato. The Ku­mato is a low-acid­ity, high-sugar fruit with a firm skin and comes in colours rang­ing from red­dish-pur­ple to near black.

Prop­a­ga­tion of Ku­ma­toes, at T&G's Har­risville site, be­gan in Novem­ber with pro­duce from the fast-grow­ing plant ready for pick­ing in six weeks. A vine can grow to 600mm in height and 15m in length, pro­duce 30 to 35 trusses and can be picked three times a week.

At the mo­ment pro­duc­tion is around one tonne a week but could go to four tonnes a week de­pend­ing on de­mand.

Grower man­ager Ja­son Greene said the fa­cil­ity had grown the pop­u­lar Le­vanzo and Speedella va­ri­eties for 10 years.

“Ku­mato has only re­cently come in pro­duc­tion, it is a (Swiss biotech­nol­ogy com­pany) Syn­genta va­ri­ety grown for its traits. Seeds are about $8 each - they own the rights to make it and we have a li­cence to grow it.

“Our mar­ket re­search has shown that peo­ple are will­ing to pay more for taste. It's about lis­ten­ing to the cus­tomers. We have a new va­ri­ety spe­cial­ist whose job it is to find what hits the mark and we are al­ways look­ing for some­thing dif­fer­ent. We found our­selves with two op­tions - we can grow toma­toes like big red wa­ter bal­loons, but flavour is the key if we're go­ing to get re­peat pur­chases.''

Ku­matos have been ini­tially of­fered to the pub­lic through Pak 'n Save and New World su­per­mar­kets in 400 gm Chef's Se­lec­tion packs which in­clude Red De­light, Yelo, An­gel, Bam­bello and Ku­mato. They are ex­pected to be of­fered in their own packs from Fe­bru­ary.

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